What’s Next On Scientific Integrity?
On January 27th, President Biden issued an Executive Memorandum on scientific integrity in the federal government. The memo lays out a process for a Task Force on Scientific Integrity as well as agency heads for developing new scientific integrity policies for federal agencies.
The memorandum states the administration’s policy to “make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data” and vows that “scientific findings should never be distorted or influenced by political considerations.” This is a welcome change after Trump’s successful efforts to assert his political dominance over all facets of government, including its scientists.
However, scientists did not suddenly get cast aside during the Trump administration. Instead, their influence in government has been gradually silenced over the last four decades as powerful economic interests, such as the oil and gas sector, chemical industries, and big agricultural interests, asserted increasing influence over all aspects of government decision-making.
Restoring scientific integrity in the federal government will be a key PEER priority in the coming year. Our work will not be easy. Those powerful interests that have weakened and degraded science in this country will not go away. That is why we will be engaging the administration at every point in this process, making sure it does not backslide on its commitment to protect scientific findings from political distortions and making sure that the voices of government workers are heard throughout the process.
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